Archive for December, 2011

Report: David Beckham Gonzo, Headed To PSG For Hefty Price Tag

(Lot of news snippets today).

Oui Paris for Beckham

Reports out of Paris today–that’s Le Parisien’s (a Paris daily) on the left–that David Beckham will–at long last–make his way to Paris Saint-Germain for the tidy fee of $18.7M over 18-months.

Ligue1 will represent the fourth league that Beckham will attempt to win a championship in (The Premiership, La Liga, MLS); his legacy of a nomadic footballer championship-seeking footballer will be cemented with a win in Paris.

Beckham’s departure was all but a foregone conclusion after he led the Galaxy to the MLS Cup this year.

With little left to prove in MLS, the Beckham brand–one that is very careful about it’s placement–stood to only lose value in the States after the triumph. For Galaxy fans, the news comes on the heals of Juninho heading south back to San Paulo. Beckham’s move, if true, would leave the Galaxy with a gaping hole in linking midfielders and there next move will certainly look to shore that position up.

Luis Suarez Banned 8 Matches by FA

Suarez...

Liverpool striker and Uruguayan national Luis Suarez was banned 8 games today by England’s Football Association for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, cited for calling him a “Negro” on multiple occasions in a game in October. Suarez will also be fined £40,000.

Suárez has 14 days to appeal the ruling and sentence.

Suárez admitted calling Evra a “Negro” but denied it was an insult. He reciprocally alleged it was a reply being “South American” by his opponent. Evra alleged he was racially insulted 10 times by Suárez.

The ruling will bring more attention to the ongoing case of Chelsea instigator John Terry who was marked later that month by QPR’s Anton Ferdinand for a single racial taunt.

The ruling also calls into question the recent remarks and comments by FIFA president Sepp Blatter who suggested that racism on the field be dealt with between the players and settled with a handshake.

It’s astounding that in this day and age that this type of garish, unsportsmanlike behavior continues, but is also subject for debate. There is no room in sports for Suarez’s onfield commentary, within or external to the gamesmanship at hand.

Update:

Liverpool have issued a statement, expressing shock at the verdict:

Liverpool Football Club is very surprised and disappointed with the decision of the Football Association Commission to find Luis Suarez guilty of the charges against him.

We look forward to the publication of the Commission’s Judgment.  We will study the detailed reasons of the Commission once they become available, but reserve our right to appeal or take any other course of action we feel appropriate with regards to this situation.

We find it extraordinary that Luis can be found guilty on the word of Patrice Evra alone when no-one else on the field of play – including Evra’s own Manchester United teammates and all the match officials – heard the alleged conversation between the two players in a crowded Kop goalmouth while a corner kick was about to be taken.

The Club takes extremely seriously the fight against all forms of discrimination and has a long and successful track record in work relating to anti-racist activity and social inclusion.  We remain committed to this ideal and equality for all, irrespective of a person’s background.

LFC considers racism in any form to be unacceptable – without compromise.  It is our strong held belief, having gone over the facts of the case, that Luis Suarez did not commit any racist act.  It is also our opinion that the accusation by this particular player was not credible – certainly no more credible than his prior unfounded accusations.

Part I of II: On The US Foreign Services With Greg Seltzer

Amsterdam-based Greg Seltzer is certainly a unique cat.

Seltzer

Greg decided long ago to make his name and career in soccer reporting and found himself relocated over to the Netherlands reporting for Soccer America.

With the re-vamp, or re-start if you prefer, of MLSSoccer.com and the need for a qualitative reporter on player movement became clear, Seltzer fit the bill.

Greg writes at both MLSSoccer.com and his blog “No Short Corners.” he’s built an extensive network of overseas sources and usually the first place you can go to get an educated corroboration or refutation on an American player movement rumor.

Kljestan for Anderlecht...

Greg’s been nice to engage me from time-to-time on TSG and we’ve had our moments of agreement and disagreement whether it be debating about the merits of a Jeremiah White call-in because the United States Men’s Team was in Denmark to trying to get scoops when Charlie Davies was at Sochaux to sparring on Sacha Kljestan’s expected playing time at Anderlecht (Greg was right–Kljestan is one of the minutes leaders at the club this season) or tussling over Roma news–for what’s it worth TSG doles out the snark on Roma rumors, but Greg’s got the sources and corroboration. Somethings going to give there at some point.

Greg’s been a good spirit and always been helpful in providing perspective and data that’s not available either in the States or only available to him. It’s easy enough for me to comment that he’s got probably the best true handle on pre-movement news on American players in Europe than just about anyone.

So, his perspective is quite unique.

Greg was nice enough to work on this back-and-forth email exchange–today is Part I–as good fodder here for discussion during the holiday news pre-transfer window doldrums.

We’ve broken it into two parts to focus the discussion in the comments section. Today, general American player value. Tomorrow, specific player movement and potential.

Matthew, TSG: Greg, thanks for taking the time. More important development for US players aboard heading into 2012: Jurgen Klinsmann’s rolodex or increased acceptance of US players skill set across the major league’s in Europe?

Greg, MLS: I would lean toward the second choice… only it’s not such an acceptance of of the “US skill set” – which is really more an intangible set than a skill set, to be honest. The American player has been appreciated in Europe for things like work ethic and field leadership for a good while now. That’s not novel. What’s on the rise is the actual skill set, which makes these players easier to appreciate for more than being “a typical US player” that busts his ass for the team and connects to the supporters.

Bradley for Chievo...

Now, some of our players can actually score silly goals to knock Juventus out. They can actually help Chievo beat two first place teams in a row with soak-up-pressure strategy, having just walked in the Serie A door. They can actually play some defense in Portugal, which is not an easy league for defenders. They can help Norwegian teams win their first title as a teen playing out of position half the time.

The better American players get, the more they will be appreciated. The more they’re appreciated, the more they’re brought over and given responsibility, the more cultured they are come World Cup time. It’s that simple. Scouts aren’t jingoistic and the dudes who sign the player bill don’t play favorites – these people just want players for winning and representing the shirt. Coaches are the wildcard with attitudes for or against this or that, but that’s whole other story.

Not to downgrade Klinsman’s connections or experience – or the development capability of MLS, for that matter – but, as is, growing expectations fall on the national team with a Euro-footprint growing every year. Now, it’s up to Klinsmann to fulfill the more reasonable expectations and take us up a tier. That’s his task and it’s no surprise that he’s hooking Nats up with training stints like an epidemic right now. He definitely know’s what’s up in that regard.

Matthew, TSG: Interesting take Greg. So it’s almost inverse with Klinsmann–the US player has been making strides and it’s up to Klinsmann to capitalize on the increase talent.

Here’s another juxtaposition:

All things being equal, do Americans have a fair shot in Europe when going up against a player of any other nationality? For example, if Brek Shea’s agent is angling for a transfer to say Arsenal and Arsene Wenger if choosing between he and say French U-23 player Frederic Bulot. Does it matter if one is American or not?

Anthony Brooks...

And does that adage hole true if it we’re comparing a “Euo-raised American,” say John Anthony Brooks and say England U-20 Reece Wabara and they are both the transfer target of say, Real Madrid?

Greg: MLS: That sounds pretty good, much more concise than mine.

Things aren’t equal in several countries for American signing. The Eredivisie has its minimum non-EU salary near a half-million Euros, the UK has its work permit ordeal, other leagues have homegrown roster quotas and non-EU squad limits to think about. A few countries are “the most equal” in the regard, places like obviously Germany, Denmark, Belgium.

From a player standpoint, it’s certainly possible that a coach will make more of an effort for promising domestic starlet over a foreigner, or a Dutch coach may feel more at ease with a Dutch player fitting into a 4-3-3. Other than these issues, Americans are plenty popular as targets. Even I don’t hear about everything that goes on, or maybe I hear about it much later. Obviously, Americans who hold EU passports are the most “equal” of all.

As for the other thing, if Real Madrid is after an American, where he was “raised” as a player is about the last thing on their mind. But they are quite on their own planet, really. That club could think marketing first, as they did when they had a speculative bid for Gooch rejected years back. With a regular-size Earth club, it would depend most of all on the whims of a particular technical director or coach.

Matthew, TSG: Two questions: 1) How important is the agent in the deal these days? Are there package deals? Many thought Freddy Adu getting a trial at Ingolstadt last year was the result of Edson Buddle’s signing….and 2) On average, are Americans “cheaper” than others players?

Greg, MLS: The influence of the agent depends, probably more on average when the players are less well-known. I don’t know about package deals, but having prior working contact with a club certainly helps. I’m pretty sure Ingolstadt just wanted offense to stay up and the agent had another idea for them.

On average, perhaps, but that is starting to go away a bit. And the best American players in MLS can often be more expensive because they have a major marketing value at home. If the Galaxy gave up Landon Donovan, they would not simply be giving up his playing aspects. The days of grabbing Michael Bradley for peanuts are over. That won’t happen again.

Matthew, TSG: So who are the key Americans abroad that US fans should truly be excited by? So many times one goal is enough to chop a forest worth’s of timber to power the hype machine…who are the Americans that in either good club situations or just have more talent than anyone else that fans will start hearing about in say 2013 or 2014?

Part II will begin with Greg’s answer here.

Video: Camp Junior Mint: Day One for U-23’s

Day One at the U-23 camp in Florida….

Ode To The Great One, Mr. Constant, George Vecsey

Perhaps it only fitting that I learned about it on Twitter, the preferred destination of choice today for breaking sports news and story distribution.

The Great George Vecsey....

The great and incomparable New York Times sports reporter and event recorder George Vecsey retiring his weekly column.

Say it ain’t so George. Say it ain’t so.

The news felt like a gut punch. An end of an era. The moment conjuring up nostalgia for early years of washing newsprint off my hands. Sundays they were near charcoal.

After taking it in I went down to my local coffee shop, played some Oscar Peterson on my laptop and read through some of Vecsey’s older columns.

Unexpectedly, emails from a few soccer buddies-teammates dribbled in. They wanted to make sure I knew–because of this publication and professed adoration–the Vecsey “news.” They praised his style and memory.

That’s something isn’t it.

———

Sunday mornings in the Tomaszewicz household were nearly always the same.

Our family would go to Church.

We’d have breakfast and then the weekly fight over who got to read what section of the newspaper.

Sundays...

The following sight is not an uncommon one on a Sunday morning growing up in suburban New York: A father walking with a stack of the days newspapers and perhaps a white rectangular box with candy-cane striped cord that held some pastries. That was a constant in our house on Sundays–one of the few times our family did something together as school, sports and extracurricular activities overtook family time.

The family would move into the living room after eating. My dad would tune the dial to 88.3—a jazz station in the Tri-State area. He’d then fill himself a gargantuan  cup of coffee in a 1979 Fireman’s Wetdown Benefit beer stein–he still has that mug; it’s also a classic.

My dad staunchly believed that reading the New York Times, specifically doing the crossword puzzle could improve SAT scores. Maybe it does–I never did it enough to figure it out.

My sister would get a blanket and grab the Science Times from the NYT or the crossword puzzle–she wasn’t in the fight.

My brother and I would engage in a battle over who got to read what sensationalized sports tabloid first before the Times–the Daily News or the New York Post. As the competition got more intense, we’d take turns hiding the newspapers once my dad walked in or hiding one section in another.

After the familial ordering of the sections, the scuffling wasn’t over.

Continue reading

The Weekend: Les Grossman, More Landon, Tim McDreamy & More

Let’s get right to it:

Back at it in Candyland...

• Everton welcomes Norwich City to it’s Really Goodison

The Premiership world was shocked when Everton announced that American Landon Donovan will come on loan to the Land of Toffee starting January 4th.

Okay, not shocked actually at all–except for the fact that Everton actually got a quality player to help them in a battle with Father Relegation, even if only for two months.

This is a much different team that Landon joins in his second loan stint in Liverpool.

No Steven Pienaar, no Yakubu, no Mikel Arteta and an attack that largely relies on the aerial abilities of Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini or the rambling runs of Leighton Baines.

Donovan will play a critical role for the Toffees on the right flank, typically.

Everton–because of probably the best LB in England right now, Leighton Baines, and a largely weak link named Tony hibbert at RB–have predominantly come down the left side when on attack this year. Check the passing charts below from a game two weeks ago against Stoke City at home–note manager David Moyes is much more likely to go for the win at home and bunker or counter for the draw on the road.

Leftback Baines in a loss against Stoke City

Baines (aforementioned) had just as many pass attempts on the left as RM Seamus Coleman (pictured here) AND RB Tony hibbert (not pictured) -- couldn't figure out how to bundle the two right siders on the chart...

—–

The charts? Twice the action down the left side of the pitch and more from the leftback role even more than the right midfielder Seamus Coleman. Donovan will likely compete with Coleman and Leon Osman–who typically facilitates runs for Baines–for two of three outside mid/forward roles.

Moyes has also had no proficient striker at his disposal and twice this season went with a team of six midfielders ahead of the back four. Luis Saha has again been inconsistent and Jermaine Beckford is non-existent. The Toffees have no one to threaten the backline of the opponent. The highline for the Toffees is not a gorgeous park to enjoy in New York City, but a nightmare stretch of land for them.

That’s where Donovan will help as well.

With the foreword-playing Fellaini and Cahill more so often checking back to the ball, Donovan can keep the opponents backline honest threaten an overlapping run when the forwards go back looking to link up with the midfielders.

Hard to say if Donovan will have success this time with the personnel that will be surrounding him, but he will certainly help the cause.

• The Cottage is Craven some goals and Bolton may just be the tonic.

Okay, help me understand this.

The Doctor of defensive distribution, Tim McdREAMy is a very solid player already–only 24, young for a CB and he obviously has great handles on the ball. However, he’s also a mess in terms of his defensive fundamentals, makes an error a game and at last glimpse his confidence was a wreck.

Yet, Owen Coyle and others in the Prem rave about making a purchase for him. Is his defensive game really ready for the Premiership? Would he just waste time on the bench now or be cast to the reserves?

Just what would be the price on his head by the New York Red Bulls for a sale? Shouldn’t Bolton be looking for someone who could offer some more immediate help or are they really going to maybe move Mr. Overrated Gary Cahill in the January window and need some cover? And Ream’s the man?!

It’s just all so very perplexing. (Don’t get me wrong–Ream should get out of Harrison and there’s oodles of potential still there.) Seems a lot of lavishing on him..at this moment. And why would you heap the praise if you want to make a purchase?

Fulham come off their Europa League ouster. The Cottage hasn’t been the steely fortress that it typically has been for them. They need to make a statement.

3-1 Londoners.

BTW, carrying on Europa in Fulham’s stead, Wisla Krakow. Genuine feel good for their fans. Courtesy TSG contributor John Nyen with the video find:

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• Newcastle vs. Swansea City

Another “Boy I am happy to see you affair here.”

Newcastle may not be sure if they’re going to have Ceick Tiote in the line-up, but that should matter little. Swansea is absolutely dreadful away from home and they haven’t won at St. James Park since 1980.

If the game starts getting out of hand early, just play the following drinking game: Anytime Jonas (35-leader), Scott Sinclair (31) or Nathan Dyer (29) flop (get fouled), take a shot/drink/sip. Three of the biggest hit-the-turfmeisters involved in this one. For comparison, Luiz Suarez (33 fouls suffered) and David Silva (17). You get the point.

• Will Manchester City be good Citizens at home and resist the Arsenal

———

Isn’t it time for Manchester City to play the same hardball with Mario Balotelli and his agent that they did with Carlos Tevez–who’s probably bowling or something in Buenos Aires right now.

Continue reading

The Messi Cam at El Clasico

Interesting slo-mo replay of El Clasico earlier this week. Now, a camera focused solely on Lionel Messi.

Thought it interesting enough to post.

 

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